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Press Release

Tight labor markets and remote working drive Philippine employers to rethink employee benefit strategy

Integrating wellbeing into the benefit package is top priority

October 21, 2021

Health and Benefits

MANILA, October 21, 2021 — The war for talent, heightened focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, and rising benefit costs are fueling a surge in companies planning to revamp their employee benefit strategy. Their goals are to differentiate themselves, personalize the employee experience and manage the costs of their benefit programs. That is according to a new survey by Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW), a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company.

The 2021 Benefits Trends Survey found that seven in ten (76%) employers in the Philippines plan to differentiate and customize their benefit programs over the next two years, a sharp increase from just 36% today. More than half (67%) cited tight labor markets, followed by increased remote working (57%), advances in technology for benefits (56%) and the increased focus on inclusion and diversity (56%) as top influences in driving their benefit strategy.

“Amid the ongoing pandemic, employers are under increasing pressure to manage their benefit costs while at the same time finding new ways to support their employees’ overall wellbeing,” said Susan La Chica, Head of Health & Benefits, Philippines, Willis Towers Watson (WTW). “Additionally, tight labor markets and the pivot to remote working or a hybrid work model, and a growing emphasis on diversity and inclusion are causing employers to look at their benefit strategies in a new light. As a result, many are now planning actions to enhance their benefit programs to create a competitive advantage.”

In the Philippines, only 50% of the employers believe their benefit programs address the individual needs of their workforce, and 32% offers significant flexibility and choice in benefits. Furthermore, only 60% of those surveyed said they currently offer competitive benefits overall, and one-third considered their core benefits (health care including some aspects of wellbeing) to be better than other employers’ benefits.

Growing emphasis on integrating employee wellbeing due to concerns on employees’ stress, burnout and mental health issues

Eighty percent (80%) of employers in the Philippines also said integrating employee wellbeing into the benefit package will be the top strategic benefit objective for their organizations over the next two years. Eighty six percent (86%) cited employee emotional wellbeing as their top priority over the next two years, followed by physical wellbeing (76%) and social wellbeing (73%).

“Employees’ stress, burnout and mental health issues exacerbated by the pandemic continue to be the main workforce concern of employers. Fostering employee wellbeing and resilience, therefore remain a top employer priority for the foreseeable future. This is clearly shown in our study as more than half (60%) of the organizations indicated that they plan to add or enhance their health care benefits as well as offer flexibility and choice in their benefits programs throughout the next two years,” said Dr. Demosthenes Villarin, Jr., Medical Director and Head of Business Development, Health & Benefits, Philippines, WTW.

A recent wellbeing study conducted by WTW shows that organizations in the Philippines are taking steps to support employees’ health and wellbeing in four main areas:

  • Physical: 47% plan to promote the use of mobile application to help their employees strengthen their physical wellbeing while 43% plan to promote the use of virtual care to address the needs of employees.
  • Emotional: 61% plan to measure the stress level of the workforce and other leading causes of it while 55% intend to assess policies and procedures for response to workplace mental health emergencies
  • Financial: Almost half (45%) plan to use employer HR data to monitor signs of financial stress and 48% aim to set and track specific objectives for use in financial wellbeing programs at pivotal decision points.
  • Social: More than a third (36%) plan to sponsor employee networks for different minority groups while the same portion (36%) intend to review and develop policies and procedures to incorporate inclusion and diversity objectives.

Most employers are also considering the use of technology to address health and wellbeing. These include the use of online or virtual medical services, and those to aid mental or behavioral health, as well as wellbeing apps. Two thirds of the respondents are also considering adopting a digital hub that houses all their benefits.

The survey also revealed that 46% of organizations in the Philippines believe their benefit programs enhance employee appreciation of the employment deal, and many are taking steps to boost support and communication. More than one-third (41%) are planning or considering the use of digital tools and technology to help employees feel connected and be productive; almost half (48%) are planning or considering the use of personalized communication to specific segments of the workforce. More than half of the survey respondents (54%) are considering managers training to identify and assist employees with their wellbeing.

“Employers should start with a review of their benefits portfolio. Their challenge will be to develop an equitable approach that meets the needs of all workforce segments while aligning with the benefit philosophy, culture and welfare programs with new ways of working and an enhanced employee experience. This will be critically important for employers to be able to manage benefit costs and optimize their investment in benefits,” added La Chica.

About the survey

The 2021 Benefits Trends Survey – Philippines was conducted during May and June 2021. Results of the survey are based on responses from a total of 154 employers in the country, representing 646,000 employees.

About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson has 45,000 employees serving more than 140 countries and markets. We design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Our unique perspective allows us to see the critical intersections between talent, assets and ideas — the dynamic formula that drives business performance. Together, we unlock potential.

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